will reduce to three general and main grounds the principal things that
have been agitated in this Parliament, and whereof I will now speak.
First, the errand for which you were called by me, and that was, for supporting of my state and necessities.
The second is, that which the people are to move unto the King: to represent unto him such things whereby the subjects are vexed or wherein the state of the commonwealth is to be redressed, and that is the thing which you call grievances.
The third ground that hath been handled amongst you, and not only in talk amongst you in the Parliament but even in many other people's mouths as well within as without the Parliament, is of a higher nature than any of the former (though it be but an incident), and the reason is, because it concerns a higher point; and this is, a doubt which hath been in the heads of some, of my intention in two things:
First, whether I was resolved in the general to continue still my government according to the ancient form of this State and the laws of this kingdom. or if I had an intention not to limit myself within those bounds, but to alter the same when I thought convenient, by the absolute power of a King.
The other branch is anent the Common Law, which some had a conceit I disliked, and (in respect that I was born where another form of law was established) that I would have wished the Civil Law to have been put in place of the Common Law for government of this people. And the complaint made amongst you of a book written by Doctor Cowell was a part of the occasion of this incident; but as touching my censure of that book, I made it already to be delivered unto you by the Treasurer here sitting, which he did out of my own directions and notes, and what he said in my name that had he directly from me; but what he spake of himself therein' without my direction, I shall always make good, for you may be sure I will be loath to make so honest a man a liar or deceive your expectations: always within very few days my edict shall come forth anent that matter which shall fully discover my meaning.
The state of Monarchy is the supremest thing upon earth; for kings are not only Godís lieutenants upon earth and sit upon Godís throne, but even by God himself they are called gods. There be three principlal similarities that illustrate the state of Monarchy: one taken out of the word of God and the two other out of the grounds of policy and philosophy. In the Scriptures kings are called gods, and so their power after a certain relation compared to the Divine power. Kings are also compared to the fathers of families, for a king is truly parens patriae, the politic father of his people. And lastly, kings are compared to the head of this microcosm of the body of man.
Kings are justly called gods for that they exercise a manner or resemblance of Divine power upon earth; for if you will consider the attributes to God you shall see how they agree in the person of a king. God hath power to create or destroy, make or unmake at his pleasure; to give life or send death; to judge all, and to be judged nor accomptable to none; to raise low things and to make high things low at his pleasure; and to God are both soul and body due. And the like power have kings: they make and unmake their subject; they have power of raising and casting down; of life and death; judges over all their subjects and in all causes, and yet accomptable to none but God only. They have power to exalt low things and abase high things, and make of their subjects like men at the chess, a pawn to take a bishop or a knight, and to cry up or down any of their subjects as they do their money. And to the King is due both the affection of the soul and the service of the body of his subjects. . . .
As for the father of a family, they had of old under the Law of Nature patriam potestatem, which was potestatem vitae et necis, over their children or family, (I mean such fathers of families as were the lineal heirs of those families whereof kings did originally come), for kings had their first original from them who planted and spread themselves in colonies through the world. Now a father may dispose of his inheritance to his children at his pleasure, yea, even disinherit the eldest upon just occasions and prefer the youngest, according to his liking; make them beggars or rich at his pleasure; restrain or banish out of his presence, as he finds them give cause of offence, or restore them in favour again with the penitent sinner. So may the King deal with his subjects.
And lastly, as for the head of the natural body, the head hath the power of directing all the members of the body to that use which the judgment in the head thinks most convenient. It may apply sharp cures or cut off corrupt members, let blood in what proportion it thinks fit and as the body may spare; but yet is all this power ordained by God ad aedificationem, non ad destructionem. For although God have power as well of destruction as of creation or maintenance, yet will it not agree with the wisdom of God to exercise his power in the destruction of nature and overturning the whole frame of things, since his creatures were made that his glory might thereby be the better expressed; so were he a foolish father that would disinherit or destroy his children without a cause or leave off the careful education of them; and it were an idle head that would in place of physic so poison or phlebotomize the body as might breed a dangerous distemper or destruction thereof.
But now in these our times we are to distinguish between the state of kings in their first original and between the state of settled kings and monarchs that do at this time govern in civil kingdoms; for even as God, during the time of the Old Testament, spake by oracles and wrought by miracles, yet how soon it pleased him to settle a Church which was bought and redeemed by the blood of his only Son Christ, then was there a cessation of both; he ever after governing his people and Church within the limits of his revealed will. So in the first original of kings, whereof some had their beginning by conquest and some by election of the people, their wills at that time served for law; yet how soon kingdoms began to be settled in civility and policy, then did kings set down their minds by laws, which are properly made by the King only, but at the rogation of the people, the King's grant being obtained thereunto. And so the King became to be lex loquens after a sort, binding himself by a double oath to the observation of the fundamental laws of his kingdom: tacitly, as by being a King, and so bound to protect as well the people as the laws of his kingdom, and expressly, by his oath at his coronation; so as every just king in a settled kingdom is bound to observe that paction made to his people by his laws in framing his
government agreeable thereunto, according to that paction which God made with Noah after the Deluge, 'Hereafter seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease so long as the earth remains.' And therefore a king governing in a settled kingdom leaves to be a king and degenerates into a tyrant as soon as he leaves off to rule according to his laws. In which case the Kingís conscience may speak unto him as the poor widow said to Philip of Macedon: 'Either govern according to your law, aut ne Rex sis. And though no Christian man ought to allow any rebellion of people against their Prince, yet doth God never leave kings unpunished when they transgress these limits, for in that same Psalm where God saith to kings, Vos Dei estis, he immediately thereafter concludes, 'But ye shall die like men.' The higher we are placed, the greater shall our fall be. Ut casus sic dolor: the taller the trees be, the more in danger of the wind; and the tempest bears sorest upon the highest mountains. Therefore all kings that are not tyrants or perjured will be glad to bound themselves within the limits of their laws, and they that persuade them the contrary are vipers and pests, both against them and the commonwealth. For it is a great difference between a king's government in a settled State and what kings in their original power might do in individuo vago. As for my part, I thank God I have ever given good proof that I never had intention to the contrary; and I am sure to Lyo to my grave with that reputation and comfort, that never king was in all his time more careful to have his laws duly observed, and himself to govern thereafter, than I. I conclude then this point touching the power of kings with this axiom of Divinity, That as to dispute what God may do is blasphemy, but quid vult Deus, that divines may lawfully and do ordinarily dispute and discuss, for to dispute a posse ad esse is both against Logic and Divinity, so is it sedition in subjects to dispute what a king may do in the height of his power; but just kings will ever be willing to declare what they will do, if they will not incur the curse of God. I will not be content that my power be disputed upon, but I shall ever be willing to make the reason appear of all my doings, and rule my actions according to my laws.
James I, Works (ed. of 1616), PP. 528-31,